If you have not yet decided if you are going to the Imagine Dragons show on Feb 17, I think I may have some information that will help you decide. Two words: Nico Vega. You may not know their name, but you probably know one of their songs, their excellent and haunting cover of “Bang Bang,” that has been prominently featured in the promotion and show “Bonnie & Clyde” on A&E.
Reading about them on their website, you find out their philosophy, “Nico Vega isn’t just a band — it is a way of life.”
The band originally formed in 2005 when guitarist Rich Koehler and the band’s original drummer Mike Peña , the well-known actor whose mother inspired the band’s name, saw singer Aja Volkman perform at LA’s Universal Bar & Grill. “We talked her into coming down and playing music with us,” Rich recalls. “Before we finished a measure, we were like, ‘This is it.’” Peña ended up leaving the band in 2007, but his Mom’s name keeps his contributions alive.
The band self-released a handful of EPs shortly afterwards, organically growing their fan base and attracting the attention of Myspace Music, which releasedNico Vega’s self-titled debut full-length album in 2009. A slew of tours followed with the likes of Blondie, Metric, Manic Street Preachers and Shiny Toy Guns as well as headlining gigs across the country.
In 2013, the Los Angeles based band — consisting of singer/lyricist Aja Volkman, guitarist Rich Koehler and drummer Dan Epand – released their sophomore album. This album draws from intensely personal experiences and the band’s passion for art and politics to deliver some of the most poignant tunes in recent memory. We Are The Art was recorded in studios around Los Angeles as well as at Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas. It showcases the band’s trademark blues-laden guitar rock, with soaring synths thrown in for good measure. Aja’s fearless and passionate vocals round out the tracks, and her lyrics simultaneously inspire and incite action. “This record has a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” says Aja. “It’s the most honest and personal thing we’ve done. Almost every song is about our journey as human beings… It’s also about standing up for yourself and your art”.
Channeling Janis Joplin and Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Aja’s incredible stage presence is undeniable. She finds catharsis and relief on stage, and it’s one of her favorite aspects of being in the band. “Getting on stage is like stepping into a hot tub…ahhhh,” she laughs. Definitely more reason to go see this show!
Nico Vega plan to tour extensively to support their rand new album, Lead to Light that’s releasing this spring with touring bassist Jamila Weaver and their newest member – Aja’s infant daughter, Arrow Eve (with her husband Dan Reynolds from indie rock band Imagine Dragons) in tow. It’s a new adventure for the first-time mom, and one that she relishes.
While the band and its members have evolved and matured as people and musicians, Aja says that there’s one thing that will never change. “Nico Vega’s running theme will always be standing up for who you are in the world and having the confidence to shine,” she says. And shine they do.
This double bill of extraordinary bands is definitely a show to go see!